AI: Somnium Files: The Rational I

So I am back with AI: Somnium Files content. This time, I am not going to omit spoilers since it’s hard to explain a concept without putting things into to context for readers to understand. So, if you want a non-spoiler-free review, you can click here.

In my previous blog post, I wanted to discuss the eye metaphor, but at the time, my mind was still wrapping around all the complex ideas surrounding the game. I highly doubt that this game, which is a product of its time will ever go mainstream, so I want to write my thoughts out here and explain the writer’s thesis on AI a little bit more in detail since I find this subject quite relevant to the time we are in. Without a doubt, Kotaro Uchikoshi, the writer of this game is in favor of Artificial Intelligence. In this game, he explains his argument pretty well and made some very valid points done creatively. So, let’s dive into the story.

Six years ago, there was a crime committed against 4 girls who happened to have their right eyes gouged out by the Cyclops Serial Killers. Fast forward, the story opens up into a new case–-a woman is found dead tied to a carousel horse at a theme park with her left eye gouged out.

Shoko sitting on a carousel horse with her left out missing
Not going to lie, the image is unsettling.

As the story unfolds, Kaname Date, the protagonist, learns the new criminal case is unrelated to the old case because of two facts: the side of the eyeball that has been removed, and the fact that the old Cyclops Serial Killers have been arrested. It turns out that the new serial killer is one of the old Cyclops Serial Killers who has been body-swapping with his victims through the use of a machine called Pysncer. His motive is to get his original body back which happens to be the protagonist’s body. Somewhere in the story timeline, Date had his body switched with the killer, which I won’t go into the plot’s detail because that will derail from the topic of this blog post.

Pulling eyeball out
To use the Pysncer Machine to swap bodies, the left eye is removed and then connected to the machine, enabling the pysncer to dive into the participant’s dream for more than 6 minutes. Hence, the reason why solving each somnium file has a time limit.
Date lying down using the pysncer machine
Date connected to the Pysncer Machine.

However, I will explain why it’s important: the Cyclops Serial Killer suffers from oxytocin disorder, a condition where he cannot bond with other people in a healthy, positive manner. It’s the pleasure of killing people that gives him the dopamine and that sense of aliveness. And it’s in his original body that gives him the fullest pleasure in killing. The one he has makes him feel depressed more than happy when he commits murder.

Date’s real body. The Cyclops Serial Killer is not too fond of being in this body.

As the story progresses, Date learns about his past, he remembers why his body has been switched with the serial killer and how it has caused him to lose his memories. It is his boss, the head of ABIS from the police detective department, who has given him a new name and an artificial eye called AI-Ball (Also referred to as Aiba for short). Since Aiba lives inside the Date’s left socket, she helps him keep in check by acting as a voice of reason. Think of Aiba as the rational eye that removes all biases and emotions, although she is more like “good news” and “hope”, according to the game’s double wordplay on Iris.

Aiba is confused to which Iris Date is referring to because Iris is also the name of an internet idol streamer.

Without AI, he doesn’t have that second pair of eyes to help him do his job effectively. But more importantly, stop him from making decisions based on impulse: the worst-case scenario is killing for the sake of killing.

The order in which the story is presented fits like a puzzle, and it helps me understand the writer’s strong thesis: AIs can be an invaluable asset to mankind. Take WiFi for an example, there are pros and cons to connecting online. But we need it. You can’t argue that the accessibility to online is more detrimental than good, do you?

Aiba screaming she can't live without wifi
I can’t argue with that statement…haha. I used WiFi to write and publish this awesome blog post!

The only drawback is the lack of meaningful, human connection. Well, it’s not like society hasn’t been glued to their smartphones and other technology gadgets. But I highly doubt normal people like me will have access to an AI like Aiba anytime soon. I can only imagine having an AI-Ball implanted in me. Say goodbye to humanity! I don’t need anyone. I will be too busy entertaining my very own eyeball! So, I suppose it is kind of scary, but at the same time it could be useful–especially if it helps those who suffer from some form of severe mental illness.

date staring at the mirror
You cannot deny there are some crazy people out there